June 14, 2021

Berbena, when food is far from the only thing

The chef Carles Pérez de Rozas Canut says, with the enthusiasm he inherited from a father who used to describe what he liked as “great, wonderful or great, great, great”, that in Barcelona there are extraordinary little restaurants. He talks about Gresca, La Mundana, Nairod, Direkte Boqueri … and assures that his, Berbena (Minerva, 6), does not reach the sole of the shoe gastronomically. But his aspiration is simply to ensure that customers enjoy and disconnect for a couple of hours from what happens outside.

And he understands that from a holistic vision, beyond food. Create this modest and talented guy, trained in very large houses (from Fermí Puig to Embat, Saüc, Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, Sant Pau, Michel Bras, in Tokyo’s Ryugin by Seiji Yamamoto or in Central Lima. Of all of them you have anecdotes to write a book) that this search for “experience” that we associate with haute cuisine also applies, in its measure, to tiny and humble houses, like yours. And what is the experience in Berbena? A combination of what this chef likes the most in life: cooking and music. That is why it should not surprise you if, sitting at the table in front of the stove (a luxury) you see him with his back to you tending to the stove, moving inadvertently to the rhythm of the boleros, salsa or mambo that sounds at that moment.

Mustard sprouts with hake roe emulsion

Cesar Rangel

Beets with ricotta and buttermilk

Beets with ricotta and buttermilk

Cesar Rangel

And it is that in Berbena music sounds. Depending on the day, depending on the moment, also African funky, or Nina Simone, or James Brown, or Tom Jones, or Chet Baker. And it sounds great, to the beat of an extraordinary good vibes. “When I receive requests to work with us, I appreciate that they have motivations beyond the kitchen and being able to work a lot of hours and resist: here we are interested in art, we are interested in many things”, explains Pérez de Rozas Canut, who now acts with six hands with Joaquín Indart and Luis Sánchez, who do not move from the kitchen while he, while he is at the stove, answers the phone, picks it up, or explains the wines (interaction with customers is natural and flowing).

This chef believes that his only limitation is the scarce 30 square meters of the premises: the rest has no limits. For this reason, his kitchen comes out elaborations that look at many places in the world and that do not pigeonhole him, although they do share the fact of combining few elements, because less is usually more: main ingredient, accompaniment and that touch or push, as the great Bras (whom he admires superlatively) calls it. One, two and three … like the beat of music.

Rape liver

Rape liver

Cesar Rangel

Tongue with potatoes

Tongue with potatoes

Cesar Rangel

In the same way that wine is important in the house, despite its informal presentation, so does bread, which is made with mystique by the chef, who learned impeccably in Lima, when he contributed to the opening of the successful Pan de la Chola; as have the quality coffees, or the ice creams that he incorporates into some of his desserts and that they make with the ingredients that he provides to his neighbors (“great, great, great”) in Parallel.

Start the meal, now without the noon menu formula (they are considering whether to recover it or not) with that bread, the pork neck with smoked butter, delicious, and pickles; The mustard shoots and hake roe are interesting, beautiful and sweet (be careful, it fills) the dice tapioca and cheddar; there is punch in the monkfish foie and delicacy and freshness in the beets with ricotta and buttermilk; A good choice in the gírgola with cauliflower and hazelnuts (a classic of the house) and daring in the bold cured with a crunchy Chinese lettuce, dressed with beef fat that adds a controversial rancid touch. The crème fâiche and oil ice cream is delicious.

Verbena



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Carrer de Minerva, 6, 08006 Barcelona


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Berbena, when food is far from the only thing

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